I recently met someone: He was everything a fairy tale protagonist falls short of description: He has those penetrating, enigmatic eyes; smile that could make my heart skip a beat at every flash; way with words so smooth, the mulberry worms would fluster; those hands so strong and big, they could hold all planets in one’s universe. He looked like Simon Bowman, and I felt like Leah Salonga. That’s how the fantasy was spun to life, and how fast it also collapsed.
One day, he just left me in the cold after I refused to give in to what he suggested. I was hurt but still reached out. The person, it turned out, had a hard time to say “I am sorry”. No, in fact, he was never sorry; he was never apologetic, never remorseful, and clueless why he would even have to.
At first, I thought this is one Alpha Male who shows apology in deeds, and not verbalise it. Fine by me. I would end up apologising for his being slighted at a drop of a dime. I mean, I do not want to hurt people, deliberately or unwittingly. Saying sorry is taking the high road and being the bigger person in any situation is being humane.
But I did not realise, being incapable to say sorry could be a red flag for narcissism. Especially since, he has started to make me second guess myself and walk on eggshells, hoping that I would not say anything to break our friendship or something that was not right.
Some telltale signs
I started reading articles again on narcissism. I recognised that possibly, I was dealing with a narcissist because the same pattern already happened to me years ago. Not recognising then the signs of a narcissistic personality, I deteriorated in that previous friendship. I felt insignificant and always wrong. I always had to prove myself and defend myself against the other person’s accusations. I had to fight against the demons the other person nurtured within himself.
Narcissism is a stealthy behavior especially in relationships when the subject (for lack of a better term than the victim) has been prepped to wear rose-coloured glasses to ever notice the ugly side of the manipulator (again, for lack of better, crueler term than this!). But there are some basic signs to watch out for to understand how a narcissist operates.
You can start with the ten basics, according to an article by Professor Preston Ni (By the way, I think he is cute :P), 10 Signs You are Dating a Narcissist
But my experience, I would like to refute Professor Ni that not all narcissists are conversation hoarders. They can also encourage conversation exchanges. They can appear to be absorbed in what you say or be interested in you. They can lock you in their gaze, fully immersed in you. But that is the dead giveaway: the eyes. How they stare. Penetrating yet empty. How they do that, I do not know. But do not be deceived.
Moreover, they do not say sorry. They may say sorry sometimes, when necessary, but it will always be about them. Either it is lack of apology, or a conditional apology, that is, Sorry (not I AM sorry), but you did this too etc…There is the absence of owning up to the situation. They will always turn the tables on you, no matter what. They needed to be always right, remember?
Every one of us, operating in our normal capacity, has our intuition as our compass and radar. When something does not feel right, then it probably is not. The best way to deal with a narcissist is to LEAVE them. Walk away from them. Or, if you feel you cannot leave abruptly for some reason, start putting your guards up. Muster the strength to set up boundaries. If they tell you to do something you are not comfortable with or not ready for, DON’T. You can take back your power in two letters: NO.
Here is another article that enumerated signs of narcissism, and is quite a good read: https://www.stayathomemum.com.au/my-lifestyle/7-early-warning-signs-dating-narcissist/
The second time I recognised that I was about to get involved with a narcissistic relationship dynamic, I had to prepare myself for a no-contact approach. I deleted his number, but I did not block him. Why, because blocking him might tempt me in the nearer future to “unblock” him to find out if he messaged. I mean, let us get real.
I also realised how far I have come now since the last narcissistic friendship, which really shattered my defences. I realise that while I am still attracting narcissists (some readings say some people are naturally attractive prey to narcissists), I am stronger now and more secure about myself to cut out toxic relationships; that I am more stable now, emotionally and mentally; and loving myself more. Hello maturity!
But because I am naturally empathetic, I am still saddened by the fall-out. Prayers for strength and guidance have helped a lot. My angels have also unceasingly supported me throughout this period of discernment.
The Unfailing Novena To The Virgin Mary Untier of Knots has also become my pillar of strength and source of clarity as I pull away from the friendship.
Finally, my inner circle of friends and my kids have been there to give their insight on the situation. Whether I agree or disagree with them, their opinions are cathartic at a time when my judgment is clouded by the prospect of finally having the ally that I have waited for all my life.
At this point, I am comforted by the belief that I am closer to the person I so wished to meet and to stay with me for the rest of our lives. And he will not be a narcissist, for sure. Because with narcissists, there is no such thing as healthy commitment.